I had to take a second look at this morning's LAT story about Madison Square Garden Co. purchasing the Inglewood venue and planning an extensive renovation. Hadn't I read the same thing a year and a half ago?
From the Dec. 10, 2010 LAT:
The owners of Madison Square Garden in New York are in the final stages of buying the Manchester Boulevard landmark for an undisclosed price that, according to numerous industry sources, falls between $20 million and $25 million. Their plan is to sink as much as twice that amount into renovations to reestablish the Forum as a heavyweight contender on the Southern California concert scene.
From this morning's Times:
MSG, as the company is known, has paid $23.5 million for the Forum and will start work this year on a $50-million renovation. Details are to be released in the fall, but the makeover is intended to turn the Forum into a top-flight concert hall and will take at least a year, President Hank Ratner said.
The deal got caught up in local politics. Under the agreement they finally worked out, MSG guarantees the city of Inglewood $675,000 in taxes each year from Forum events. In return, Inglewood gives MSG an $18-million loan for the rehab work, though there are conditions. The Forum seller is Faithful Central Bible Church, which bought the property for $22 million in 2000. Its misguided idea was to turn the 18,000-seat arena into a family entertainment complex. But there were financial and legal troubles - and besides, Staples Center was tough competition. Now, things should get interesting. MSG is a NY powerhouse - besides operating Madison Square Garden, the company recently renovated New York's famous Radio City Music Hall. Hank Ratner, president of MSG, says, "we will bring the same attention to detail to our renovation of the Forum, resulting in a world-class venue that will be the place for music in Los Angeles," The owner of Staples, Anschutz Entertainment Group, is basically saying, "Bring it on." From the Times:
They don't fear a rivalry with the East Coast impresarios. They were quick to raise questions about the security of the neighborhood surrounding the Forum and dismissed it as a "class B" venue. "We are very certain of our customer experience, their safety and the vibrancy of our campus," said Tim Leiweke, president of Los Angeles-based AEG. "We are going to vigorously protect our own town."
The concert business has picked up since the recession, but attendance remains flattish. Like I said, things should get interesting.